Saturday, October 01, 2005

Summa for Dummies...

St. Thomas Aquinas, how could he ever be named “The Dumb Ox”?

I can sit down and read his works for 5 minutes and my mind becomes numb. True, I do have 2 children (which has significantly lowered my I.Q.) but have I lost all capacity for intelligent thought? The answer is, probably not.

I have been intimidated, yet intrigued, by the writings of St. Thomas. I bought my husband the Summa Theologia as an engagement present. Nope, can’t read it. I am definitely not ready for that. I looked through A Shorter Summa and found that I am not quite there either. So, I have settled on Kreeft’s A Shorter Summa. Granted this is more of an explanation of St. Thomas’ work in the beginning, but a person has to start somewhere.

One of the things I love about being a Third Order Dominican is how they focus on feeding our intellect and our soul. Saying rosaries and Liturgy of the Hours is a wonderful way to focus on our Lord. Sometimes I feel like I am taking the easy road. I haven’t pushed myself to understand our faith the way I need to, the way I want to. Studying the writings of the Church Fathers, Doctors, and the Bible stretches our minds and challenges our previously held notions of the Church. Is it easy? No, it is not. Is it worth it? I think it may be.

So now, I am going to start reading. Maybe I am overzealous to start with “The Dumb Ox”. (How I wish I had one morsel of understanding that this man did.)

If only they had a Summa, of the Summa, of the Summa, of the Summa. Or maybe a Summa for Dummies.

Yup, you have to start somewhere.



Anonymous said...
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jordan said...

Oh can I understand where you are coming from!!! During the novice formation, when we were having to read sections of the Summa, I remember being near tears...realizing first and foremost had poorly educated I was..I didn't have any sort of background to be tackling Aquinas!!!

I'm still struggling too...someone once recommended Josef Peiper, and I have to say it was interesting, but still trying to actually read Aquinas himself is well, daunting.

Hanging in there with you!

Tom said...

As the lady said after paging through the Summa, "If that's God's simplicity, I'd hate to see His complexity!"

You might try Fr. Walter Farrell's A Companion to the Summa. At the very least, it's easy reading.

Kathy said...

I encourage you. I am also reading Kreeft's Summa of the Summa. I follow the advice he gives in the beginning: Read it once, Go back and read the notes, Then read it again. It usually makes pretty good sense by the third time! I would be happy to discuss it with you as you read it but I am guessing that I cannot leave an e-mail address in a comment like this. I encourage you to continue to teach yourself to think systematically. Thomas is an expert teacher. Being able to defend the faith is a critical skill today. A very helpful, and accessible, book toward this end is "I don't have enough faith to be an Atheist!"